The Card, a Story of Adventure in the Five Towns eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 220 pages of information about The Card, a Story of Adventure in the Five Towns.
essential respects his life was wrecked, and that he had nothing to hope for save hollow worldly success.  He knew that Ruth would return the ring.  He could almost see the postman holding the little cardboard cube which would contain the rendered ring.  He had loved, and loved tragically. (That was how he put it—­in his unspoken thoughts; but the truth was merely that he had loved something too expensive.) Now the dream was done.  And a man of disillusion walked along the Parade towards St Asaph’s Road among revellers, a man with a past, a man who had probed women, a man who had nothing to learn about the sex.  And amid all the tragedy of his heart, and all his apprehensions concerning hollow, worldly success, little thoughts of absurd unimportance kept running about like clockwork mice in his head.  Such as that it would be a bit of a bore to have to tell people at Bursley that his engagement, which truly had thrilled the town, was broken off.  Humiliating, that!  And, after all, Ruth was a glittering gem among women.  Was there another girl in Bursley so smart, so effective, so truly ornate?

Then he comforted himself with the reflection:  “I’m certainly the only man that ever ended an engagement by just saying ‘Rothschild!’” This was probably true.  But it did not help him to sleep.

II

The next morning at 5.20 the youthful sun was shining on the choppy water of the Irish Sea, just off the Little Orme, to the west of Llandudno Bay.  Oscillating on the uneasy waves was Denry’s lifeboat, manned by the nodding bearded head, three ordinary British longshoremen, a Norwegian who could speak English of two syllables, and two other Norwegians who by a strange neglect of education could speak nothing but Norwegian.

Close under the headland, near a morsel of beach lay the remains of the Hjalmar in an attitude of repose.  It was as if the Hjalmar, after a long struggle, had lain down like a cab-horse and said to the tempest:  “Do what you like now!”

“Yes,” the venerable head was piping.  “Us can come out comfortable in twenty minutes, unless the tide be setting east strong.  And, as for getting back, it’ll be the same, other way round, if ye understand me.”

There could be no question that Simeon had come out comfortable.  But he was the coxswain.  The rowers seemed to be perspiringly aware that the boat was vast and beamy.

“Shall we row up to it?” Simeon inquired, pointing to the wreck.

Then a pale face appeared above the gunwale, and an expiring, imploring voice said:  “No.  We’ll go back.”  Whereupon the pale face vanished again.

Denry had never before been outside the bay.  In the navigation of pantechnicons on the squall-swept basins of canals he might have been a great master, but he was unfitted for the open sea.  At that moment he would have been almost ready to give the lifeboat and all that he owned for the privilege of returning to land by train.  The inward journey was so long that Denry lost hope of ever touching his native island again.  And then there was a bump.  And he disembarked, with hope burning up again cheerfully in his bosom.  And it was a quarter to six.

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The Card, a Story of Adventure in the Five Towns from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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